By Roger Costa
LONG DAY’S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT
Visually arresting and poetically contagious, Gan Bi’s sophomore feature is one of this year’s most celebrated films. Its dazzling aesthetic, colors, and exuberant 3-D shots create a fascinating, inventive dreamlike experience, it’s like a modern and bohemian crossing between David Lynch and Antonioni. It follows the desperate quest of a lonely grieving man for a notorious lover. After returning home for his father’s funeral, he meets a mysterious woman, who’s possibly connected to the one he’s trying to forget. Past and present are blended in this sophisticated, sexy puzzle about human desire and existentialism. As the protagonist delves into his personal male crisis, reflecting on his past, and unusual encounters, such as a boy whom he plays ping-pong with, the film explores the meaning of living, and finding one’s soulmate, deeply using every possibility available in cinematic skills. (Kino Lorber. 7/13-20. Museum of the Moving Image, Astoria).
Joseph Cross’ directorial debut reveals the vibrant talent of a newcomer. A versatile actor turned director, Cross demonstrates a bold aesthetic as he approaches the rom-com field for the first time. As he gathers a group of friends dealing with heartaches, insecurities and anxieties, but mostly looking to fully celebrate their youth, he conceives an accomplished tale about the troubles of this generation in finding love and fulfillment. Two friends prepare for a special rock gig, but before their performance they must solve some conflicts caused by love. Ellar Coltrane (Boyhood), and Ella Hunt (Anna and the Apocalypse) lead the charming ensemble cast, which includes surprisingly funny turns by Justin Chatwin as a barman, and Analeigh Tipton, as the young lady caught up with an unexpected pregnancy. Refreshingly romantic, filled with cheerful energy, and upbeat music, it’s a funny and lively observation on companionship. (Samuel Goldwyn Films. 7/12. Cinema Village).
THE SWEET REQUIEM
Depicting the struggles of Tibetan refugees living on the margins in India, directors Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam’s new collaborative work is a touching, truthful account on the sacrifices made by those seeking justice in this political conflict. An acclaimed selection at Toronto, and winner of the Best Film Award at Kolkata International Film Festival, it captures the anxiety and fears of a young woman haunted by her past. As a child, she crossed the Himalayas in order to escape the Chinese army, and now as an adult beautician living in Delhi, she must analyse her traumas to find relief. The challenges faced by her, include a mysterious spy, the detectives after him, a political activist, and a love interest. Suspenseful, heartbreaking and alarming, the film precisely observes the suffering of these refugees, especially their loneliness and homesickness, claiming for a peaceful turn in the chaotic situation. A courageous, stirring drama about human resilience and resistance. (Juno Films. 7/12. IFC Center).
Two of South America’s finest performers are reunited in this chilling, provocative and taut crime thriller. Darío Grandinetti and Alfredo Castro play a lawyer and a detective respectively, both engaged in the investigation to find out the whereabouts of a missing wealthy “hippie” man. Set amidst the political conflicts of mid-70’s Argentina, structured as a modern, stylized noir with astonishing red-tones cinematography and impressive suspenseful techniques, writer-director Benjamín Naishtat crafts an amusing and enigmatic multiple characters study while justifying their reasons and actions: the lawyer and his instinctive defense; the supportive wife; the daughter experiencing the early signals of desire; and a family friend who’s aware of all turmoils. Highly supported by the superb pair of actors, it’s an innovative, atmospheric and elegant drama that keeps you on the edge of your seat. (Distrib Films. 7/12. Quad Cinema and Film at Lincoln Center).